The late great Big L was one of the best and most underrated (imho, and despite his boasting) rappers to come out of New York in the 90's. He was only able to record two genuine albums before he was murdered in early 1999.
Big L was born Lamont Coleman on may 30th, 1974. A prodigy of Fat Joe, Big L guested on several albums before releasing his first solo album, “Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous” in 1995. "Lifestylez" peaked at 149 on the Billboard pop charts, and number 22 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts. His second album, “The Big Picture”, was released posthumously in 2000 and peaked at 22 on the Billboard pop charts, and number 2 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts. He was also part of Fat Joe's D.I.T.C. crew and apears on the D.I.T.C. self titled album released in 2000. One of the songs off of "The Big Picture", "Casualties of a Dice Game", spoke about the dangers of hustling and proved to be prophetic, as Big L himself was shot playing dice near his house on February 15, 1999. He had over $10,000 dollars in his pocket and was only 24 years old.
"Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous", is in my opinion Big L’s best album. The first track, "Put It On", was produced by Kid Capri and is my favorite. Just because it’s the first track does not mean that the rest of the album does not hold up. His most famous Track is probably the song "Ebonics" off of "The Big Picture". Big L's style is fast and funny and he has some of the tightest lyrics of any MC. I agree that the production on this album, and on Big L albums in general, is not up to par with his rhyming, but it doesn’t take away from his abilities at all. L was an accomplished freestylist and the freestyle compilation "Harlem’s Finest" was released in 2002 in limited edition. While the sound quality on many of the tracks on "Harlem’s Finest" is less than perfect, it does a good job of showing just how good he really was. Big L was a talented mc, who always stole the show, and who always tore shit up. While his legacy may not be equal to that of some of the better-known Rap casualties, his presence will always be missed and his catalogue,official or not, will always stand as proof that commercial minded hip-hop does not always need to suck.